Children often like the idea of secret clubs. But if the club is exclusive or stops your child from meeting new friends, you should encourage him to expand his circle.

Q: Recently, I found out that my 9-year-old belongs to a secret club, and I'm worried. Should I insist that he include everybody?

A: If a secret club keeps your child from having other friendships or causes a rift in the neighborhood, you should step in, says Wanda Draper, Ph.D., Oklahoma City-based author of Your Child Is Smarter Than You Think. But don't forbid such a club, or it will just gain more importance in your child's life. Instead, you might say to your son, "Your new club sounds exciting, but I'm concerned about how it might be affecting your other friendships. Is there any way for you to include all of the other kids who would like to join?"

If you find that this approach is not making any difference in your child's choice of playmates, try saying, "Well, let's compromise. Why don't we agree that you'll save Tuesday afternoons for your club meetings and spend the other days playing with the kids who aren't in your club?" Since children this age are very interested in having special friends, don't pressure your son or deprive him of his club. But do try to help him make better choices.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.